It had been an excellent Saturday before Christmas.
The painting on which I had been working made good progress.
With friends coming for mid-day drinks I made tasty “bites” by frying small squares of my home-made bread in olive oil, turning them over, adding slices of goats’ cheese, milled pepper, salt, a pinch of paprika, and then frying the other side after adding a little more oil. The result is a crisp base with slightly melting cheese on the top. The paprika is for looks. They are very popular.
The guests came and went. Then a wine merchant friend appeared for a while.
As he was leaving through the front door, Fusker, a local cat, owned by a TV motoring personality and debunker of wine snobbery, dashed in to the house and ran up the stairs.
He had done this before. And it was fun to find him, catch him and put him out.
At last I had him in a place where I could bend down to pick him up. But on this occasion he suddenly attacked me viciously with teeth and claws. If an animal chooses to pick a fight with me, and on my territory, I fight back, and fight to win.
And this fight was a considerable one, accompanied by those very loud shrieking noises made by cats when fighting at night.
It took a while to subdue the wild creature, before chastising him with words and actions before ejecting him from the door through which he had entered.
We took stock of my wounds.
The gore was mopped up, and disinfectant put on nine cuts, some superficial, some deep - with two deep ones perilously close to veins.
As we waited for the blood to dry, we both thought that perhaps it might be wise for me to seek an anti-tetanus injection. So we took a mini cab to the Accident and Emergency Department of our local Charing Cross Hospital.
After a short wait, a doctor cleaned each of the nine wounds, and sprayed them with iodine from a spray can (how nice to still be using a substance that was put on to our cuts and grazes as children over 80 years ago). He then dressed them with iodine- impregnated gauze plasters. The anti-tetanus injection followed, and a course of antibiotics started. How wonderful is our National Health Service.
We were wise to seek help, learning that cat bites and scratches were more dangerous to the human body than those of dogs. And we were told that at the slightest sign of infection I was to go back to a hospital immediately.
I intend to die in my own time, but to have “MAULED BY A CAT” as my epitaph would be ignominious in the extreme.
James May is a friend and neighbour.
Seeing him one day we said that he should Google “Fusker the cat” or read our blog concerning the above confrontation.
What would you do if a cat savaged a friend and neighbour, probably returning to your house with that neighbour’s blood on tooth and claw?
Would you ignore it? Would you dispatch the cat? Would you apologise? Or would you send him a case of wine in recognition of the pain caused, blood let, taxi fares to and from hospital taken into account, and creative and family time wasted?
He chose the first option - to ignore it. Would you do the same?
James is probably right. For, as my Dutch wife, Margreet, says: The English consider animals to be more important than people.